Every breath you take. Why air quality matters.

The average person takes approximately 672,768,000 breaths in their life. That’s about 16 breaths per minute, or 960 an hour, 23,040 a day, or 8,409,600 a year. This can vary depending on how active you are; if you go on a daily jog, it could be very well over the average. Naturally, if you live longer, it’ll also be more.

The air circulating through our bodies is vital to their functioning, and subsequently, has a significant impact on our health. Our daily lives expose us to a variety of pollutants depending on our location, lifestyles and jobs. Outdoor air affects the quality of indoor air, and much air indoors contains more pollutants than we may realise. Assessing air quality in these environments is, therefore, essential to our overall well-being.

So what factors affect air quality? And what impact are they having on our health? And, perhaps most importantly, what action can we take?

The impact of outdoor air quality

If you say the words “air quality”, most people will think of outdoor air quality. Various pollution sources impact the air outdoors, causing a build-up of harmful substances. You might be surprised to learn that some of these are natural and unavoidable; for example, in the event of a wildfire. However, the vast majority of harmful pollutants are as a result of the burning of fossil fuels.

One of the most harmful pollutants is particulate matter, or PM. Inhaling PM can have a substantial effect on the heart and lungs, and according to research, plays a significant role in mortality in the general population. This damage occurs throughout life; long-term exposure impairs lung growth in children, while in adults, evidence suggests that PM accelerates the decline of lung function in later life.

Why indoor air quality could be even more important

However, indoor air quality could be having an even more substantial impact on our health. This is because today, we spend the majority of our time indoors: at home, work, in shops, or in vehicles. Outdoor air quality has a knock-on effect on indoor air quality, as open windows and doors allow PMs and other pollutants to circulate and collect. Even so, there are many and sometimes potent sources of pollution indoors, including fumes from cleaning products, mould spores, VOCs, and formaldehyde. 

Drivers associated with climate change are also putting increasing pressure on maintaining good air quality inside buildings. In some sense, this is a double-edged sword. While many people choose to keep windows and doors shut to conserve heat and energy, this leads to reduced ventilation. Subsequently, there is a greater build-up of these hazardous indoor pollutants.

What’s the solution to poor air quality?

It goes without saying that climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our time. Radically cutting greenhouse gas emissions is essential to improving outdoor air quality and saving lives. Improving outdoor air quality will also impact the air we breathe inside, as fewer PMs and CO2 will flow and circulate indoors.Meanwhile, there are other things we can do to maintain the quality of air indoors. Maintenance of good ventilation is key, as is monitoring pollutant levels and aligning with government standards. Advanced air purification technology will play a key role in this goal. With technology like Rejuvenair, building owners and managers can maintain the cleanest possible air with UVC technology and HEPA filters that eliminate 99.99% of pollutants, including PMs. Click here to learn more.